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December 15, 2020

AVMA hosts members of Congress for briefing on disease center

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Members of Congress and their staff attended an AVMA-hosted briefing on the expected benefits of a national animal disease center under construction in Kansas.

In the briefing, Dr. Alfonso Clavijo, director of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, described the facility’s importance for defending against foreign animal diseases and zoonoses. An AVMA announcement indicates more than 100 lawmakers and congressional staff members attended the Sept. 16 virtual meeting.

“The briefing raised awareness of the importance of the nation’s animal health infrastructure and emphasized the need for a coordinated, One Health approach to safeguard animal agriculture, the economy, and public health,” an AVMA announcement states.

The NBAF has been under construction since May 2015 in Manhattan, Kansas—home to Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine—as a collaboration of the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Agriculture. Federal officials plan for the facility to become fully operational in December 2022.

Once completed, the NBAF in central Kansas will replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York as the nation’s premier site for studying transboundary, emerging, and zoonotic diseases that threaten people, animals, and the economy, according to USDA information. Its 48-acre campus will include a 574,000-square–foot biocontainment laboratory facility to develop vaccines, provide diagnostic testing, and develop countermeasures against diseases affecting animals or originating in them.

Operations conducted now at Plum Island will fully transition to the NBAF by the end of 2023.